Watkins Glen: Round 22 preview

*Race To The Chase: Edwards Closes Bonus-Point Gap *NASCAR CAM: Robby Gordon Talks Road-Course Racing *In The Loop: Stats Favor Those Named 'Gordon' *New York Natives In The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Garage Numbers Game: Stewart Aims For 1st '08...

*Race To The Chase: Edwards Closes Bonus-Point Gap
*NASCAR CAM: Robby Gordon Talks Road-Course Racing
*In The Loop: Stats Favor Those Named 'Gordon'
*New York Natives In The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Garage

Numbers Game: Stewart Aims For 1st '08 Win, 5th At The Glen

Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Toyota) has yet to crack the win column this season, but statistics alone make him an overwhelming favorite for Sunday's Centurion Boats at the Glen.

The two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion leads five important categories of pre-race Loop Data stats for the event -- the annual road-course event at Watkins Glen International.

As the defending race champion, Stewart's pursuing not only a second consecutive win at the upstate New York track, but his fourth in the last five series races there.

Lastly, he and four-time series champion Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) -- NASCAR's all-time leader with nine road-course wins -- have combined to win 15 of the last 22 series events at road courses. That includes eight of the last 11 at Watkins Glen.

Stewart, who's ninth in the series standings, has two top-five finishes in his last three races, the latest a runner-up finish last Sunday at Pocono Raceway.

As for pre-race Loop Data for Watkins Glen, he leads Driver Rating (137.9), Average Running Position (3.3), Fastest Laps Run (76), Laps in the Top 15 (264) and Average Green Flag Speed (119.360 mph). He has four wins, five top fives and seven top 10s in nine career starts there.

Race To The Chase: 50 Bonus Points Remain

Winning is the focus with five events remaining before the 2008 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup begins Sept. 14 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The second half of the Race to the Chase -- the 10 events preceding the cutoff event at Richmond International Raceway -- begins this Sunday at Watkins Glen. Drivers accrue 10 bonus points for each win during the season's first 26 races, and the top 12, who qualify for the Chase, are seeded according to bonus-point totals.

Standings leader Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M's Toyota) holds the top spot with a series-high seven wins (70 bonus points).

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford), thanks to Sunday's win at Pocono (his fourth in '08), would be seeded second, followed by Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) and Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge). Kahne and Johnson each have two wins; based on tiebreakers, Johnson earns the third seed.

Four other drivers currently in the top 12 have one win in '08 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet), Clint Bowyer (No. 07 DirecTV Chevrolet), Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota) and Jeff Burton (No. 31 AT&T Mobility Chevrolet).

Earnhardt, Bowyer, Hamlin and Burton would be seeded fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively.

Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Ford) and Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet) -- winless thus far in '08 -- would be seeded ninth, 10th, 11th and 12, respectively.

Winning Drivers Usually Win At The Glen

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers who win championships tend to win at Watkins Glen.

Sunday's Centurion Boats at The Glen marks the 26th series event at the upstate New York road course, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this season.

Fifteen drivers have won on the 2.45-mile track, among them three series champions -- Rusty Wallace, Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart.

Combined, those 15 drivers have an impressive 363 total career victories.

In fact, it's not usual for series champions to battle for wins at The Glen. Exhibit A: Gordon and Stewart were part of a suspenseful finish to last year's event; Gordon, the polesitter, spun in Turn 1 while leading late, and saw Stewart usurp his lead for the win.

Gordon, who celebrated his 37th birthday on Monday, is NASCAR's all-time leader with nine road-course wins.

"I love racing at Watkins Glen," he said. "It's fast, and it's a track that suits our cars very, very well " Watkins Glen's winning history may present the next hurdle for standings leader Kyle Busch.

Busch's series-high seven wins include a victory earlier this season in the schedule's only other road-course event, at Infineon Raceway.

A win on Sunday would mean the '08 road-course sweep for Busch, who also won the NASCAR Nationwide Series event in Mexico City in March.

If he does prevail, he'll become the first driver to win three national-series road-course events in one season. Busch could use the boost; he's coming off two consecutive finishes outside the top 10.

On The Cam: Robby Gordon

Robby Gordon, the owner/driver of Robby Gordon Motorsports, was the guest Tuesday on the weekly NASCAR CAM Video Teleconference.

An accomplished road racer, he addressed this week's event at Watkins Glen, among other topics. Following are some excerpts.

Q: Is road racing your favorite type of racing?

Gordon: "I still like the road racing a lot. It's something that I look at, we have probably a 1-in-5 or 1-in-10 shot of winning the race. We put a lot of effort into our road racing. Not that we don't put a lot of effort into our oval racing. This is something I've done for 15 years now and I have a lot of experience road racing."

Q: Is it more difficult for an oval racer to adapt to road racing and vice-versa?

Gordon: "I think it's probably difficult each direction. The biggest thing on the oval is to back off early, get it into the corner, then get back on the gas. It's similar to how I run the road races as well. I try to roll the middle as fast as I can. And I think that's helped me on the road courses.

"But, the short ovals I normally run pretty good at, so it seems like that works there, too."

Q: Any plans for a second car in 2009, with driver Scott Riggs?

Gordon: "Well, I think Scott Riggs is a very good racecar driver. We'll start there. Committed to running a second car? You know, we'd love to run a second car. I think our team and our facility and our systems and procedures and policies, all that stuff, is in place now to run a second car.

"You know, we still haven't won with one car, but this weekend's race hasn't happened yet either. It's important to make one car run good first. And we've been able to stay inside of the top 35. But at the same time we'd like to position ourselves to win races."

Q: On the tough competition on road courses:

Gordon: "The competition's so close, especially with the new car, the way it is today. The cars are pretty equal. So if there's a hole there, you got to take it. Sometimes two cars get together. Obviously, short track racing and road racing is probably similar because the speeds are down low in the middle of the corner. "I think any race right now is tough to win and I think the competition's close."

Q: Any advice for fellow driver Tony Stewart, who will become an owner/driver next year?

Gordon: "I think he'll do a good job at it. The only words of wisdom that I gave him was, and I only mean it in fun and games, be careful what you wish for, you might get it.

"You know, it's a chore to be the driver and the owner. But at the same time, provided you hire the right people and they do their job and follow through with it and take ownership in it, it's not that big of a deal. It's when you have to get involved in certain situations."

In The Loop: 'The Gordons' Rule Pre-Race Stats At The Glen

The unrelated Gordons -- Jeff and Robby -- find themselves near the top of most Loop Data statistical categories over the past three races at Watkins Glen.

The two have combined for five Watkins Glen victories (Jeff has four and Robby one). Since 2005, Jeff has a Driver Rating of 108.2 (third-best), an Average Running Position of 9.6 (fourth), 15 Fastest Laps Run (third) and 196 Laps in the Top 15 (tied for fourth).

Robby has similar stats. Over the past three Watkins Glen events (all top-five finishes), Robby has a Driver Rating of 106.3 (fourth), an Average Running Position of 11.9 (fifth), six Fastest Laps Run (tied for sixth), 196 Laps in the Top 15 (tied for fourth...with Jeff Gordon) and 158 Green Flag Passes (fifth).

For some, the key component of this weekend -- and the remaining five events in the Race to the Chase -- are bonus points. With each win in the first 26 races, a driver adds 10 bonus points to their Chase total, and everyone's chasing Kyle Busch's 70 bonus points.

The two who seems most primed to catch him are Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson.

Since 2005, Johnson has a Driver Rating of 104.5 (fifth-best), an Average Running Position of 7.9 (third) and has run an impressive 87.1% of the Laps in the Top 15 (second).

With two consecutive top 10s at The Glen, Edwards has a Driver Rating of 85.6 (10th), an Average Running Position of 15.2 (ninth) and ranks eighth in Laps in the Top 15 (57.7%).

Busch, also with two consecutive top 10s at The Glen, has a Driver Rating of 84.9 (11th), an Average Running Position of 20.0 (19th) and has run 42.3% of the Laps in the Top 15 (15th).

The Local Angles, At Watkins Glen

New York Natives ... Home-grown talent in the NASCAR Sprint Cup garage, including several teams with multiple New York natives:

Hoyt Overbagh (Buffalo) -- No. 21 Engineer; Geoff McNally (Corning) -- No. 21 Windshield/Driver Support; Christina Cicci (Elmira Heights) -- No. 21 Media Relations and Clayton Miller (Johnstown) -- No. 21 Pit Support;

Jesse Goldin (Salamanaca) -- No. 07 Mechanic and Tina Yocono (Holley) -- No. 07 Scorer; Gene Pasquale (Rochester) -- No. 88 Tire Specialist; Rich Pickrell (Perth) -- No. 88 Transport Driver and Karen Belden (Schenectady) -- No. 88 Scorer;

Jack Kurtzner (Malta) -- No. 10 Transport Driver and Craig Curione (Sanborn) -- No. 10 Front Tire Changer;

Other New York-native team members:

Chris Chase (Nichols) -- No. 29 Shock Specialist; Tim Clancy (Dansville) -- No. 22 Gas Man; Brian Englehart (Greenfield Center) -- No. 29 Gas Man; Kevin Wing (Groton) -- No. 96 Jack Man;

Rich Macco (North Syracuse) -- No. 42 Rear Tire Changer; Danny Kincaid (Port Byron) -- No. 83 Rear Tire Changer; D.J. Copp (Ontario) -- No. 45 Rear Tire Changer;

Chris Elliot (Williamson) -- No. 16 Windshield/Driver Support; James Antenozzi (Rochester) -- No. 19 Gas Runner; Cate Higgins (Waterford) -- No. 31 Scorer and Bill O'Dea (Victor) -- No. 29 Spotter.

Up Next: Race To The Chase, Week 7 At Michigan International Speedway

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns for the second of two 2008 events at Michigan International Speedway next week -- the 3M Performance 400 presented by Bondo on Sunday, Aug. 17.

Kurt Busch is the defending champion. Jeff Gordon is the defending pole winner.

Three-time series champion and NASCAR legend David Pearson leads all drivers with 10 poles and nine wins at Michigan.

The Race: Centurion Boats at The Glen
The Place: Watkins Glen International

The Date: Sunday, Aug. 10
The Time: 2 p.m. (ET)

The Track: 2.45-mile road course
The Distance: 220.5 miles/90 laps

TV: ESPN, pre-race at 1 p.m. (ET)
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS Satellite.

2007 Winner: Tony Stewart
2007 Polesitter: None (weather)

Pre-Race Schedule:
Friday -- Practice, 11:45 a.m.-1:20 p.m. Qualifying, 3:10 p.m.
Saturday -- Practice -- noon-12:45 p.m. and 1:20-2:20 p.m.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Robby Gordon , Kurt Busch , Jimmie Johnson , Scott Riggs , Kasey Kahne , Carl Edwards , Clint Bowyer , Denny Hamlin , Kyle Busch , David Pearson
Teams Williams , Robby Gordon Motorsports